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The Guilty Wife: A gripping psychological thriller with a heart-pounding twist Paperback – 17 June 2021
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- Publisher : Bookouture (17 June 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 310 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1800194188
- ISBN-13 : 978-1800194182
- Dimensions : 12.85 x 1.98 x 19.84 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 213,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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But that aside THE GUILTY WIFE, which I believe was better of titled with it's original "Happily Ever After", turned out to be not what I expected. Particularly as the setting for this rather complicated psychological thriller takes the reader on a whirlwind ride across continents from England, Mauritius, Australia and Thailand. I felt jet-lagged just reading the book!
Two hours before she is due to marry Alistair, Pippa Bryant turns up to the registry office already crowded with their guests clad in jeans and a t-shirt to call off their wedding. Realising that while they are comfortable together, they aren't actually in love anymore. So since her parents paid for their luxury honeymoon to Mauritius, which was non-refundable, Pippa decides to enjoy the holiday on her own. But she soon discovers that being alone in a resprt rife with honeymooners is not quite as much fun as she had anticipated.
Surrounded by loved-up couples, Pippa hones in on the only other vacationer who appears to be on their own - a seemingly grumpy middle-aged man who rebuffs her attempts at conversation. She tries to befriend him but he isn't receptive though he does introduce himself as James Cardle. After a bit of web-surfing she discovers that Cardle is a private investigator from London. So what is he doing on Mauritius? Or rather, who is he investigating here? Determined not to spend her entire holiday alone and armed with a bottle of wine one evening, Pippa turns up at Cardle's hut to share a couple of drinks together. As they enjoy a playful banter, they hear a couple of screams followed by the appearance of one of the honeymooners, a look of shock on his face. Pippa and Cardle follow the direction in which the man, Daniel Halligan, was pointing and are shocked by their discovery.
We have two honeymooning couples who are hiding their own secrets...but is it enough to have one of them killed? So who of the players do we have that could be involved?
Tansy - wealthy and beautiful Australian/Filipino and social media influencer who makes a living out of sponsors gifting her their products for her to sprout them to the world via social media. Her honeymoon was a gift from one of her sponsors and she is there, not to enjoy the first forays of wedded bliss, but to document her entire honeymoon with live coverage for her fans. As with anything Tansy, the honeymoon is fake, as she arrives with her hair stylist and makeup artist to ensure she looks her best for her fans. Back home in Australia, she is a the founder and proprietor of Hiraya Shakes, a green health food shake she promotes as having cured her of lupus while recruiting "angels" to sell for her therefore making money off them.
Daniel - Tansy's new-suffering husband, who left Britain some years before to backpack around Australia before settling in Sydney. He is escaping his second worst nightmare, an ill-fated property venture that has all but bankrupted him and from which his new wife had rescued him. He spends their honeymoon sipping drinks by the pool and going on catamaran trips to see dolphins. Alone.
Nikki - a thirty-something young woman from Britain who has arrived in Mauritius with her husband Arne to enjoy their first days of wedded bliss. She compliments Tansy on a designer dress she is wearing one evening, pouring over its beauty, when Tansy proclaims she will have it cleaned and sent to her to keep, as she has plenty of items by this designer anyway. Nikki is thrilled and gushing her thanks. But Nikki has a secret from her past that is about to catch up with her.
Arne - Swedish and the oldest of the couples, he is a wealthy and successful with possibly a lot to lose. But he loves Nikki and the couple are most definitely loved-up honouring their vows "till death to us part". They are the only couple intent on living the dream of wedded bliss on their honeymoon. Until it all goes wrong...
After the incident, police are called and everyone gives their statements. And then, everyone goes their separate ways. The Halligans flee back to Australia, the Lindgrens to Sweden whilst Pippa returns to England and her mundane job in insurance. She also has to deal with moving out of the flat she and Alistair had shared for nearly six years. But nothing would prepare her for what she discovers the day after she returns...and all at once the late nights, the no sex and the withdrawal of affection makes perfect sense. Alistair had been seeing someone else. And now she is moving in and taking Pippa's place.
Life couldn't get any worse, that is until Pippa finds herself out of a job as well as homeless. But she soon finds a flat above an old coach house and a sometimes companion for an independent elderly lady, and though the rent is cheap, Pippa knows she needs to find herself a job. So she looks up Jim Cardle and heads over to his office offering her services to keep some sort of order to his incredibly messy office and filing system. And soon the pair are jet-setting off to Australia to investigate claims of Tansy's fraud and the possibility of Daniel Halligan's guilt over what happened in Mauritius, given that they fled soon after. Their investigations take them all over Australia to Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth with the only capitals not visited being Hobart, Adelaide and Darwin. But their travels didn't stop there...and I got jet-lagged just reading it!
THE GUILTY WIFE begins at a steady pace, I wouldn't say slow, but just a relaxed pace as the couple settle into their honeymoon with Pippa people-watching. You think it will be another predictable run of the mill thriller but that's where you're wrong. Once this tale gets warmed up, the plotting becomes very complex indeed, very clever and very compelling. With a tapestry of circumstances cleverly woven together, we are confronted with blackmail, murder, suicide, fraud and grief to name a few...not to mention vanity, self-absorption and the fakeness portrayed to highlight that things are not always what they seem. And this book is definitely one of them!
There are twists that are unexpected and a lot of jet-setting for Pippa who's teamed up with James to help solve the underlying mysteries. They certainly make a good team as they travel the globe to uncover the truth amidst the lies. There is most definitely a chemistry between them that is hard to ignore and at times becomes intense.
The characters are all well developed with some likeable and one most definitely not so likeable. Throughout the book, we are given glimpses into their stories and what lead them to where they are now and more importantly, to Mauritius. The story unfolds through the eyes and narratives of Pippa and Daniel, but through them we get to know the other players just as well. The book itself is divided into five parts as the story begins with Pippa and Daniel respectively on Mauritius but then goes back a year to Daniel's story in Australia and what lead him to where he now finds himself before moving back to the present day and the underlying investigation. Don't be fooled into thinking it's confusing, because it's not. It is incredibly well thought out and cleverly written.
My only complaints, firstly the fact that there was a discrepancy with the name of a church, in which a couple had been married citing it being the same church that one of them was then buried, was actually two different names - St Nicholas as the first and the second St Peters and yet it was stated as being the same church. I found it just a small error but within the space of the same chapter it should have been picked up.
My biggest issue with the book is the ending. I felt the Epilogue was practically a non-event and didn't see why it was even included as there was no real finality to it. As it ended at the bottom of the page, I flicked it over expecting there to be more...and there wasn't. I was a little disappointed given how things had developed to have left it there. While other reviewers are hoping for a second book to pick up where this one left off, I'm fully aware that that's not how these thrillers pan out. They are not a series so therefore there will not be a sequel. And that's why the ending is somewhat disappointing.
I also think the original title "Happily Ever After" is far more fitting than THE GUILTY WIFE, which I don't believe fits, because in the end...no one is happy ever after.
But that aside, THE GUILTY WIFE is a delicious drama that is most definitely a riveting read. The pace begins steadily but picks up to the rate of knots which will have you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Though it's not her best book, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and have no hesitation in recommending it to those who enjoy complex psychological thrillers.
Although it sits in a crowded genre, this book was so well done that it stands out. Pippa Bryant abandons her wedding to Alastair 2 hours before they are due to tie the knot. She realises that, while they are comfortable together, she is no longer in love with him. Since her parents paid for their honeymoon on Mauritius, and the fee is non-refundable, she goes on the trip solo. It doesn’t take long for Pippa to realise that being solo at a honeymoon hotspot is not as much as fun as she thought it would be. There are loved up couples everywhere. She meets the Swede Arne Lindgren and English bride Nikki. She also meets Daniel Halligan and Tansy Dimaano - Tansy is an exotic beauty from Australia who is a social media influence. She spends most of her time creating new ‘content’ and ignoring her new husband. This couple doesn’t seem very loving!
Pippa notices a man who seems to be on his own, James (Jim) Cardle. She tries to befriend him but he is not initially receptive. After a bit of web surfing she learns that Cardle is a private investigator from London. Hmmm, she wonders who or what he is investigating on Mauritius. Eventually he softens a bit and they share a couple of drinks. One night, they are on his deck and hear a couple of screams, then people are running towards one of the beach huts. Pippa and Cardle run over as well to see what is happening....and find....I can’t tell you that but it sure wasn’t what it seemed!
It turns out Cardle is investigating Tansy. Soon he and Pippa are working together and the story gets very interesting indeed. I read this so quickly as I couldn’t put it down. The pace was excellent and you just kept getting new tidbits of information which changed the complexion of the story. Your loyalties tilted one way and then another. The strength of this story lies in the excellent character development. My goodness Tansy was a piece of work - willing to trample over anybody and everybody to get what she wants. When people were no longer useful to her they were discarded like a used tissue. Such self-absorption is a rare thing but it was so well depicted. Daniel Halligan was a harder nut to crack. It took a lot longer to get a handle on what made him tick and in the end I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. Yet everyone had a part to play in this delicious drama.
The pacing of the story was excellent and it never really let up. You were always waiting for the other shoe to drop or some other new revelation. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It will appeal to anyone who likes thrillers or psychological thrillers and I am grateful to Netgalley for my gifted copy. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
My dream is to one day vacation in Mauritius, but as I am petrified of flying this is unlikely to become a reality, so I will just have to settle for it being used as part of the setting in a book as Alison James has done here. What I enjoyed was how the story also spanned across other locations including Australia, England and Thailand, so whist my hometown was in another lockdown, this book took me on multiple vacations and was the perfect escape from it all for a few hours.
What I most admire about Alison James’ work is that you know you are going to get a really great read each and every time and The Guilty Wife is no exception. Whist It is not as dark as previous books, this is a very enjoyable read. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers, you don’t want to let this one pass you by. An interesting plot, a good cast of characters, with one that is so diabolical, but makes the story all the more entertaining, that is all wrapped around flawless writing, you really can’t go wrong with this one.